Why do we kiss?

Have you ever been in mid-kiss and wondered, “Why the hell am I doing this?” If not, well firstly, I hope you have kissed someone. If you have kissed someone but haven’t asked why, then I guess you just don’t see the amusement in such a strange habit we, as humans, have picked up.

The origins of kissing have been hypothesized to stem from learned feeding behaviors of our prehistorical ancestors… Of which, have become instinctual down the generations. Gauging from the morphology of early hominid mothers teeth, they weren’t eating mash potatoes. Try rock hard tubers, and so they

“may have chewed food and passed it from their mouths into those of their toothless infants. Even after babies cut their teeth, mothers would continue to press their lips against their toddlers’ cheeks to comfort them.”

This claim is further supported by primatology. The behaviors of Bonobos, who are known for their promiscuity and affection show that,

“They do [kiss] to make up after fights, to comfort each other, to develop social bonds, and sometimes for no clear reason at all – just like us.”

But there is some data that negates the claim to instinct. See kissing is not as uniform across all cultures, as we like to think. Approximately, 10% of the human population does not kiss. That leans the hypothesis to one that supports it is a learned behavior rather than instinctual since not all humans kiss. In fact cultural anthropologists report that “Certain tribes around the world just don’t make out” and have no idea what it is all about!

Philematologists, the select few of the scientific community that specialize in the science of kissing say,

“humans do it because it helps us sniff out a quality mate. When our faces are close together, our pheromones ‘talk’ – exchanging biological information about whether or not two people will make strong offspring. Women, for example, subconsciously prefer the scent of men whose genes for certain immune system proteins are different from their own. This kind of match could yield offspring with stronger immune systems, and better chances for survival.Still, most people are satisfied with the explanation that humans kiss because it feels good. Our lips and tongues are packed with nerve endings, which help intensify all those dizzying sensations of being in love when we press our mouths to someone else’s. Experiencing such feelings doesn’t usually make us think too hard about why we kiss – instead, it drives us to find ways to do it more often.”

I think kissing is a unique phenomenon in our behavioral repertoire, don’t you? What’s your hypothesis on why we kiss?

Thanks to Scienceline’s Roberto Morabito on “Why do humans kiss?

7 thoughts on “Why do we kiss?

  1. “Have you ever been in mid-kiss and wondered, ‘Why the hell am I doing this?'”


    Thanks for the knowledge!

  2. Uh no, kisses pass epigenetic pheromones, mainly the facial skin surface lipids which contain more than 735 oddball chemicals that are strange in exactly the stereochemical ways that typify insect pheromones. The human appetite for kissing pheromones uses the same pathways as addiction, but without all the harsh side effects. As you might expect, kissing of our father’s faces is the most important for finding peace and love in life. Without enough paternal affection (i.e. kissing your dad’s face to pick up enough of his facial skin surface lipid ‘kissing pheromone’), you run high risks of criminal or drug-seeking appetites that may be difficult to control. If you kiss your mother too much without enough affection from your father during childhood, you run the risk of homosexual ideation and behavior. Happily, scientists have been able to reverse criminal, drug-seeking, and perverse behavior of all descriptions with a one-time, 150 mg dose of the paternal facial skin surface lipid taken by mouth. See: Nicholson B. Of Love KISSES PASS EPIGENETIC PHEROMONES IN THE PATHOGENESIS OF SOCIOPATHY, ‘MENTAL ILLNESS’ AND DISEASE The Cure for Crime. The Cure for Drug Addiction. It is available free on google and for $1.00 on Amazon. Here is the link: http://tinyurl.com/y8vxlxp

  3. How is kissing not instinctual behaviour and is something that is learnt? Isn’t it also related as behaviour that goes with sexual intercourse which is sort of instictual to make humans reproduce?

    1. You can’t claim kissing usually comes before sex, thus kissing is instinctual, like sex. The act of sex is necessary for human reproduction, kissing could very easily be skipped (and – in fact – is by 10% of the population).
      Actually thinking about it, 10% is a staggering percentage of humanity that doesn’t kiss. If kissing were instinctual, then the percentage of people who do not kiss would be FAR below 10%. Social influence can not very easily affect what does -not- happen in the bedroom… Especially social influence purely by omission.

  4. Kissing is a learned trait. It may have some biological advantages as are said above, but those advantages don’t have much significance in the decision making process. It feels good because he are taught or its normality and romanticism. Just like holding hands when you are younger, having your first kiss can have an overwhelming physiological effect on the body only because we associate a socialized feeling to it. As said about, 10% of cultures don’t kiss, and many more cultures didn’t kiss (romantically) until they were influenced by western culture. The Japanese never had romantic kissing the way we do till they were exposed to it through western culture. That’s why they use their foreign word alphabet (katakana) to write it and still call it by its western name (in this case “kisu”). The biological reasons for kissing have VERY little to do with the reasons we kiss today. That should be clear.

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